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Trump Proposes Slashing Foreign Aid, Environment In Budget Plan

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Donald Trump's 2018 budget proposes to slash foreign aid and environmental programs

U.S. President Donald Trump has presented a budget plan that would slash funding for foreign aid, the State Department, environmental programs and other initiatives to make way for a big boost in military spending.

In the plan issued by the White House on March 16, Trump proposed a 10 percent jump in defense spending and an increase in homeland security spending, including funding for a wall on the Mexican border.

The State Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been targeted for some of the biggest reductions: 28 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

The proposed overhaul of federal government spending comes after Trump promised to "put America first" and "make the safety of our people [the] number one priority."

He named the $3.8 trillion budget plan America First: A Budget Blueprint To Make America Great Again.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled support for the plan, saying in Tokyo on March 16 that the level of State Department spending in the past was "simply not sustainable."

Trump has proposed a combined $25.6 billion budget for the State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a $10.9 billion reduction from current spending.

Tillerson said the department was "coming off a historically high allocation of resources" adding that a lot could still be done with "fewer dollars."

The proposed cuts in State Department spending would cut deeply into foreign aid, grants to multilateral development agencies such as the World Bank, and climate-change programs at the United Nations.

Resistance In Congress

The Republican president's budget plan would take effect in the 2018 fiscal year, which begins on October 1 of this year.

Many of its proposals are expected to face strong resistance from U.S. lawmakers in Congress, whose support is key because they vote to authorize government appropriations.

Republicans have criticized Trump's plans for heavy cuts in foreign aid and diplomacy.

"The administration’s budget isn’t going to be the budget,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said. “We do the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.”

Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said that the White House is open to negotiation but defended the proposed cuts.

“This budget represents a president who is beholden to nobody but the voters,” Mulvaney told reporters.

The EPA is also a major target for reductions in the proposed budget. Climate change programs at the EPA also are targeted for elimination, with Trump proposing to get rid of more than 50 environmental programs in all.

The Health and Human Services and the Labor, Agriculture, and Transportation departments would also face significant cuts.

The budget plan leaves some of the biggest programs -- Social Security and Medicare for the elderly -- untouched.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and The Washington Post
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